Review: Nikon Z6 (The Better of Nikon’s Two Initial Mirrorless Cameras)

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The Nikon Z6 is a fairly competent entry-level interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, but we were definitely hoping for more.

When Nikon first announced the Z6, we were certainly hoping for a camera system that would blow us away. Instead, what we got was a camera system that felt half-baked at best. Coming into the mirrorless marketplace five years later than the competition, you would expect Nikon to avoid pitfalls that have plagued competing camera manufacturers, but the reality is they seem to be making a lot of the same mistakes. Nikon got quite a bit right with the Z6, and it is certainly a decent enough entry-level interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, but wow us it most definitely did not.

Editor’s note: This review is going by an experimental new standard that we’ve outlined. Each section receives its own rating and in this case, the Nikon Z6 can earn a maximum of 25 stars with each section having a maximum 5 star rating.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Excellent Electronic Viewfinder with 100% frame coverage
  • EVF protrudes from the camera body, minimizing contact between your nose and the rear LCD
  • Top display shows you all of your settings at a glance
  • Intuitive touchscreen rear LCD
  • Solid battery life when using newly designed EN-EL15b batteries
  • Robust weather sealing
  • Works with most existing Nikon F mount lenses using the Nikon FTZ adapter

Cons

  • Single XQD card slot may be a deal breaker for photographers with certain workflows
  • Colors on the rear LCD were inconsistent when compared to EVF
  • Autofocus performance, while better than the Nikon Z7, still leaves much to be desired
  • Certain settings were oddly organized within the menus
  • There is way too much settings information displayed on the rear LCD, often getting in the way of you framing your shot

 

Gear Used

We tested the Nikon Z6 with the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f4 S, NIKKOR Z 35mm f1.8 S, NIKKOR Z 50mm f1.8 S, and the Tokina 50mm f1.4 Opera adapted using the Nikon FTZ F Mount to Z Mount adapter.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Nikon Z 6 were taken from the Nikon’s official Z6 page.

TYPE
Type Digital camera with support for interchangeable lenses
Lens Mount Nikon Z mount
IMAGE SENSOR
Effective Pixels (Megapixels) 24.5 million
Sensor Size 35.9 mm x 23.9 mm
Image Sensor Format FX
Effective Pixels (Megapixels) 24.5 million
Image Sensor Type CMOS
Total Pixels 25.28 million
Dust-Reduction System Image Dust Off reference data (requires Capture NX-D); image sensor cleaning
Dust-Off Reference Photo Yes
Image Area (pixels) FX-format
(L) 6,048 x 4,024
(M) 4,528 x 3,016
(S) 3,024 x 2,016
DX-format
(L) 3,936 x 2,624
(M) 2,944 x 1,968
(S) 1,968 x 1,312
1:1 (24 x 24)
(L) 4,016 x 4,016
(M) 3,008 x 3,008
(S) 2,000 x 2,000
16:9 (24 x 24)
(L) 6,048 x 3,400
(M) 4,528 x 2,544
(S) 3,024 x 1,696
Photographs taken during movie recording at a frame size of 3,840 x 2,160:
3,840 x 2,160
Photographs taken during movie recording at other frame sizes: 1,920 x 1,080:
1,920 x 1,080
FILE SYSTEM
File Format Still Images NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit (lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed); large, medium, and small available (medium and small images are recorded at a bit depth of 12 bits using lossless compression)
TIFF (RGB)
JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1 : 4), normal (approx. 1 : 8), or basic (approx. 1 : 16) compression; optimal quality compression available
NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
Storage Media XQD memory cards
Card Slot 1 slot
File System DCF 2.0
Exif 2.31
PictBridge
VIEWFINDER
Viewfinder 1.27-cm/0.5-in. approx. 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED with color balance and auto and 11-level manual brightness controls
Viewfinder Frame Coverage Approx. 100% horizontal
100% vertical
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.8x (50 mm lens at infinity, -1.0 m -1)
Viewfinder Eyepoint 21 mm (-1.0 m-1; from center surface of viewfinder eyepiece lens)
Viewfinder Diopter Adjustment -4 to +2 m−1
LENS
Eye Sensor Automatically switches between monitor and viewfinder displays
Depth-of-Field Control Yes
Lens Compatibility at a Glance*** Z mount NIKKOR lenses
F mount NIKKOR lenses with mount adapter; restrictions may apply
Compatible Lenses Z mount NIKKOR lenses
F mount NIKKOR lenses with mount adapter; restrictions may apply
SHUTTER
Shutter Type Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane mechanical shutter; electronic front-curtain shutter; electronic shutter
Shutter Speed 1/8000 to 30 sec. in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, bulb, time, X200
Fastest Shutter Speed 1/8000 sec.
Slowest Shutter Speed 30 sec.
Flash Sync Speed Up to:  X=1/200 sec.; synchronizes with shutter at 1/200 sec. or slower; Auto FP High-Speed sync supported
Bulb Shutter Setting Yes
Shutter Release Modes Single frame
Low-speed continuous
High-speed continuous
High-speed continuous (extended)
Self-timer
Frame Advance Rate Low-speed continuous: 1-5 fps
High-speed continuous: 5.5 fps
High-speed continuous (extended): 12 fps
Continuous Shooting Options Low-speed continuous: 1-5 fps
High-speed continuous: 5.5 fps
High-speed continuous (extended): 12 fps
Top Continuous Shooting Speed at Full Resolution 12 frames per second
Self-Timer 2, 5, 10, 20 sec.; 1-9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, or 3 sec.
Timer duration electronically controlled
EXPOSURE
Exposure Metering System TTL metering using camera image sensor
Metering Method Matrix metering
Center-weighted metering: Weight of 75% given to 12 mm circle in center of frame; weighting can instead be based on average of entire frame
Spot metering: Meters 4 mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point
Highlight-weighted metering
Metering Range Matrix or center-weighted metering: -4 to +17 EV
Spot metering: -4 to +17 EV
Highlight-weighted metering: -4 to +17 EV
Exposure Meter Coupling CPU
Exposure Modes Auto
Programmed auto with flexible program (P)
Shutter-priority auto (S)
Aperture-priority auto (A)
Manual (M)
User settings (U1, U2, U3)
Exposure Compensation -5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV available in modes P, S, A, and M
Exposure Lock Luminosity locked at detected value
Picture Control Auto
Flat
Landscape
Monochrome
Neutral
Portrait
Standard
Vivid
Creative Picture Controls: (Dream, Morning, Pop, Sunday, Somber, Dramatic, Silence, Bleached, Melancholic, Pure, Denim, Toy, Sepia, Blue, Red, Pink, Charcoal, Graphite, Binary, Carbon)
Selected Picture Control can be modified
Storage for custom Picture Controls
SENSITIVITY
ISO Sensitivity ISO 100 – 51,200 in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
Can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 50 equivalent) below ISO 100 or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1 or 2 EV (ISO 204,800 equivalent) above ISO 51,200; auto ISO sensitivity control available
Lowest Standard ISO Sensitivity 100
Highest Standard ISO Sensitivity 51,200
Lowest Expanded ISO Sensitivity 50
Highest Expanded ISO Sensitivity 204,800
Active D-Lighting Can be selected from:  Auto
Extra High
High
Normal
Low
Off
Active D-Lighting Bracketing Yes
FOCUS/AUTOFOCUS
Autofocus System Hybrid phase-detection/contrast AF with AF assist
Detection Range -2 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF)
Detection range (ISO 100, f/2.0 lens, 20 °C/68 °F)
Lens Servo Autofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C); full-time AF (AF-F; available only in movie mode); predictive focus tracking
Manual focus (M): Electronic rangefinder can be used
Focus Point 273 (single-point AF)
AF-area Mode Pinpoint
Single-Point
Dynamic-area AF
Wide-area AF (S)
Wide-area AF (L)
Auto-area AF
Pinpoint and Dynamic-area AF available in photo mode only
Focus Lock Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing center of sub-selector
Focus Modes Pinpoint
Single-point
Dynamic-area AF
Wide-area AF (S)
Wide-area AF (L)
Auto-area AF
Pinpoint and Dynamic-area AF available in photo mode only
Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points 273
Vibration Reduction 5-axis image sensor shift
Autofocus Fine Tune Yes
FLASH
Flash Bracketing Yes
X-Sync Speed 1/200th sec.
Top FP High Speed Sync Up to:  1/8000 sec.
Flash Control TTL: i-TTL flash control; i-TTL balanced fill-flash for digital SLR is used with matrix, center-weighted, and highlight-weighted metering, standard i-TTL fill-flash for digital SLR with spot metering
Flash Sync Modes Front-curtain sync
Rear-curtain sync
Red-eye reduction
Red-eye reduction with slow sync
Slow rear-curtain sync
Slow sync
Off
Flash Compensation -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV available
Flash-ready Indicator Lights when optional flash unit is fully charged; flashes as underexposure warning after flash is fired at full output
Accessory Shoe ISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts and safety lock
Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) i-TTL flash control, radio-controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting, optical Advanced Wireless Lighting, modeling illumination, FV lock, Color Information Communication, Auto FP High-Speed Sync, unified flash control
WHITE BALANCE
White Balance Auto (3 types)
Choose color temperature (2,500 K–10,000 K)
Cloudy
Direct sunlight
Flash
Fluorescent (7 types)
Incandescent
Natural light auto
Preset manual (up to 6 values can be stored), all with fine-tuning
Shade
White Balance Bracketing Exposure, flash, white balance, and ADL
LIVE VIEW
Live View Shooting Photography Live View Mode
Movie Live View Mode
MOVIE
Movie Metering TTL exposure metering using main image sensor
Movie Maximum Recording Time 29 minutes 59 seconds
Movie File Format MOV
MP4
Movie Video Compression H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
Movie Audio Recording Format Linear PCM
AAC
Movie 4K UHD 3,840×2,160 / 30 fps
4K UHD 3,840×2,160 / 25 fps
4K UHD 3,840×2,160 / 24 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 120 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 100 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 60 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 50 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 30 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 25 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 / 24 fps
Full HD 1,920×1,080 slow-mo / 30 fps x4
Full HD 1,920×1,080 slow-mo / 25 fps x4
Full HD 1,920×1,080 slow-mo / 24 fps x5
Actual frame rates for 120p, 100p, 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p are 119.88, 100, 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, and 23.976 fps respectively
Quality selection available at all sizes except
3,840 x 2,160, 1,920 x 1,080 120p/100p, and 1,920 x 1,080 slow-mo, when quality is fixed at high
Movie Audio Built-in stereo or external microphone with attenuator option; sensitivity can be adjusted
Movie ISO Auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO 100 to 51,200)
P, S, A: Auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO 100 to Hi 2) with selectable upper limit
M: Auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO 100 to Hi 2) available with selectable upper limit; manual selection (ISO 100 to 51,200 in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV) with additional options available equivalent to approximately 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, or 2 EV (ISO 204,800 equivalent) above ISO 51,200
Movie Active D-Lighting Can be selected from:
Auto
Extra high
High
Normal
Low
Off
Time Code Yes
Drop frame
Movie Log Gamma Output N-Log with View Assist (HDMI output only)
Movie e-VR Yes
Movie HDMI Output Yes, up to 10bit
Start/Stop supported
Movie Focus Peaking Yes
Movie Highlight Display (Zebras) Yes
Time-Lapse Movie Up to 4K UHD; Silent mode option
AF for Movie AF Speed and AF Tracking Sensitivity can be adjusted
MONITOR
Monitor Size 3.2 in. diagonal
Monitor Resolution 2,100,000 dots
Monitor Type Tilting TFT
Touch-Sensitive LCD
Monitor Angle of View 170° viewing angle
Monitor Adjustments Color balance
11-level manual brightness controls
Virtual Horizon Camera Indicator Also visible in LiveView Modes
Also visible in Viewfinder
PLAYBACK
Playback Functions Auto Image Rotation
Full-frame and Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images)
Highlights
Histogram Display
Location Data Display
Movie Playback
Photo and/or Movie Slide Shows
Photo Information
Picture Rating
Playback with Playback Zoom
Playback Zoom Cropping
In-Camera Image Editing Distortion Control
D-Lighting
Image Overlay
NEF (raw) Processing
Perspective Control
Red-eye Reduction
Resize
Side by Side Comparison
Straighten
Trim
Trim Movie
Image Comment Yes
INTERFACE
Interface USB: Type C connector (SuperSpeed USB)
HDMI: Type C HDMI connector
Accessory terminal: Can be used with MC-DC2 and other optional accessories
Audio Input: Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5 mm diameter; plug-in power supported)
Audio Output: Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5 mm diameter)
Wi-Fi Functionality Standards: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/a/ac
Operating frequency: 2412–2472 MHz (channel 13) and 5180–5700 MHz
Maximum output power (EIRP): 2.4 GHz band: 7.4 dBm 5 GHz band: 12.2 dBm
Authentication: Open system, WPA2-PSK
Smart Device App Connectivity SnapBridge
Bluetooth Communication protocols: Bluetooth Specification
Version 4.2
Operating frequency: Bluetooth: 2402–2480 MHz
Bluetooth Low Energy: 2402–2480 MHz
Approximately 10 m (32 ft.) without interference; range may vary with signal strength and presence or absence of obstacles
GPS Via the SnapBridge app
Save/Load Camera Settings Yes
MENUS
Total Custom Settings 38
My Menu Yes
Recent Settings Yes
Supported Languages English
French
Portuguese (Brazil)
Spanish
The languages available vary with the country or region in which the camera was originally purchased.
Date, Time and Daylight Savings Time Settings Yes
World Time Setting Yes
POWER
Battery / Batteries One EN-EL15b rechargeable Li-ion battery
EN-EL15a/EN-EL15 can also be used, but note that fewer pictures can be taken on a single charge and that charging AC adapter can be used to charge EN-EL15b batteries only
Battery Life (shots per charge) 310 shots (CIPA)
Movies:  Approx. 85 min. of movie recording
AC Adapter EH-7P Charging AC Adapter
EH-5c/EH-5b AC adapter (requires EP-5B power connector, available separately)
Battery Charger MH-25A Battery Charger
MISCELLANEOUS
Approx. Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth) 5.3 in. (134 mm)  x  4 in. (100.5 mm)  x  2.7 in. (67.5 mm)
Approx. Weight 20.7 oz. (585 g)
camera body only
Operating Environment Temperature: 32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C)
Humidity: Less than 85% (no condensation)

 

Ergonomics

Taken from our First Impressions article.

At first glance, the Nikon Z6 looks nearly identical to the Z7 with the only difference being the badge that you’ll find on the lower right corner of the front of the camera body.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Nikon Z6, when looking at the front of the camera body, is how massive the brand new 55mm Z mount is. To the right of the Z mount is the lens release button, and to the left are a pair of customizable function buttons. The clear dot on the upper right corner is the autofocus assist illuminator.

Moving towards the top of the Z6, you’ll find the mode dial on the left side of the camera body. The mode dial is automatically locked unless you depress the lock release in the center of the dial, preventing any accidental mode changes. As you move towards the right, you’ll find the hot shoe situated above the Electronic View Finder, followed by the settings display panel. Nikon calls this the Control Panel, and when the camera is on, it will display the Shutter Speed, Aperture, Battery Level, ISO, Shutter Release Mode, as well as the number of images you will be able to write onto your XQD card. Moving further right towards the top of the hand grip area, starting from the front, you will find the Power Switch, as well as the Movie Record, ISO, and Exposure Compensation buttons. The Main Command Dial can be found just above the thumb rest towards the rear of the Z6’s grip, while the Sub Command Dial is located up front towards the top of the grip, just below the power switch.

Shifting focus towards the left side of the Z6’s body are the various connector ports (covered in this image). The button on the left side of the Electronic View Finder is the Monitor Mode button, which allows you to adjust the behavior of the EVF as well as the rear LCD.

With the connector port covers removed, you’ll find the headphones and external microphone ports located towards the front, while the USB Type-C, Mini HDMI, and the Accessories connector ports can be found towards the back.

The 3.2 inch, touch enabled, tilting LCD display takes up most of the real estate towards the back of the Nikon Z6. Above the LCD, beginning from the left, you will find the Playback and Delete buttons, followed by the Electronic View Finder, as well as the toggle that switches between Photo and Movie mode along with the DISP button which allows you to adjust what is displayed on the rear LCD. A lockable Diopter Adjustment Dial can be found towards the right of the EVF. On the right side of the rear of the Z6, beginning from top to bottom, are the Autofocus-On button, the Joystick/Sub-Selector button, the i button which pulls up the quick menu, the Multi Selector directional pad along with the OK button, as well as the Zoom In/Zoom Out buttons, Menu button, and the Shutter Release Mode button.

The only thing you will find on the right side of the Nikon Z6 is the hand grip, with the telltale red stripe that’s adorned many Nikon cameras before it. Towards the rear of the hand grip is where you will find the cover for the XQD card slot, upon which the thumb rest is molded.

And here we are, the dreaded solitary XQD slot. It is what it is, folks. No amount of bitching and moaning will make a second card slot magically appear, so if having only a single card slot is a deal breaker, then the Nikon Z6 is certainly not the right choice for you.

In Comparison

Ergonomically, the Nikon Z6 is fairly well thought out. While I personally have never had issues with the Canon EOS R, Fujifilm X-T3, or the Sony A7III in terms of ergonomics, the Nikon Z6 (and the Z7 for that matter) definitely felt the very comfortable to hold. The Z6’s hand grip is arguably more robust that those found on the latest generation of competing Full Frame Mirrorless cameras,. Photographers with larger hands will certainly appreciate this. The protruding EVF is an excellent design choice as well, one that will surely earn praise from photographers with sizable noses like yours truly.

In terms of Ergonomics, the Nikon Z6 earns Five out of Five Stars.

 

Build Quality

As I had said before during our First Impressions article, the Z6 feels like an amalgamation of a Sony A7 series body and a Nikon D850 hand grip, and similar to a lot of the flagship Nikon DSLR’s that came before it, the Nikon Z6 features class leading weather sealing. During my time with the camera, we got to put this weather sealing through its paces, and the Z6 passed with flying colors, having survived numerous heavy rain storms and near arctic temperatures in New York as well as Massachusetts. The Nikon Z6 didn’t skip a beat, and I didn’t notice any significant degradation in battery life despite the low temperatures.

In Comparison

While the weather sealing on the Nikon Z6 is excellent, we have subjected the Canon EOS R, Fujifilm XT-3, and the Sony A7III to similar conditions as well and all of them have survived the abuse.

In terms of Build Quality, the Nikon Z6 earns Five out of Five Stars.

 

Ease of Use

Long time Nikon DSLR shooters will find the Nikon Z6 to feel instantly familiar. The grip, adorned with the signature red stripe, feels distinctively Nikon as soon as you hold the Z6 in hand. Minor design quirks aside, most photographers will be able to pick up and start shooting with the Z6 after they take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with how everything on the Z6 is laid out. Aside from a few settings that require a bit of digging, the menu system on the Z6 is laid out in a pretty straightforward manner. With the exception of the mode dial as well as the playback and delete buttons, most of the controls on the Z6 can be found on the right side of the camera along the Z6’s hand grip, allowing you to operate the camera one-handed in most instances. Being able to see and confirm all of my settings from the top settings display, which Nikon is calling the Control Panel, is something that I wish all mirrorless camera manufacturer would implement into their camera bodies. As a mostly manual shooter, I never loved the ISO button that Nikon has put on their cameras, and this hasn’t changed with the Z6. Having to hold down the ISO button before I can adjust the ISO using the Main Command Dial on the Z6 always felt like an unnecessary step. Annoyingly, if I needed to enable auto ISO, I had to hold down the ISO button yet again, except this time I needed to enable the setting using the Sub Command Dial. Just give me a dedicated ISO dial next time, Nikon.

As a bespectacled photographer that also happens to have, shall we say, a prominent nose, the protruding Electronic Viewfinder on the Nikon Z6 did a stellar job at minimizing contact between the rear display and my nose. This kept my nose from smudging the rear display too often and helped to prevent my nose from accidentally interacting with the touchscreen. The EVF on the Z6 is one of the best amongst the current crop of Full Frame Mirrorless cameras on the market and even with glasses on, I never ran into issues seeing my subject clearly. In stark contrast to the excellent EVF, however, the rear touchscreen left much to be desired. While the touchscreen itself worked fairly intuitively (with the exception of the reversed scrolling direction when reviewing images), colors on the rear LCD were way off when compared to the EVF. In addition, while the EVF displayed the settings information within the black bars above and below your frame, the litany of settings information is plastered around the sides of the rear LCD, distractingly cluttering your frame. Even at the most minimal setting, there was still too much information strewn about the edges of the frame and often got in the way of my framing my shot when using the LCD. Hopefully, Nikon will allow you to disable most of the on-screen information in a future firmware update.

In Comparison

For photographers considering switching to the Nikon Z6, you will likely find have an easier time shooting with competing cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, and Sony. However, if you’re a Nikon shooter through and through, then the Z6 will probably be right up your alley.

In terms of Ease of Use, the Nikon Z6 earns Three out of Five Stars.

 

Autofocus

The autofocus system on the Nikon Z6 was pretty responsive overall, but photographers expecting the same level of performance as the 3D Focus Tracking system found on existing Nikon DSLRs, or are accustomed to Face/Eye Detection Autofocus systems from competing camera manufacturers, will find much to be desired from the Z6’s autofocus performance. When comparing against the Nikon Z7, the Z6’s autofocus performance feels a bit more responsive, but keep in mind that the Z6 only has 273 autofocus points as opposed to the 493 found on the Z7, and the Z6 only has to resolve 24.5MP while the Z7 is dealing with a much higher resolution of 45.7MP.

Single-point AF, Wide-area AF, and Auto-area AF all worked significantly faster than Pinpoint AF, which felt slower than watching grass grow. I honestly wouldn’t bother using it unless you’re shooting with the Z6 in studio environments. Additionally, portrait photographers should note that Face Detection currently only works when the Z6 is set to Auto-area AF. Hopefully, Nikon can expand this functionality to additional AF modes in future firmware updates.

In Comparison

Autofocus is the one pain point that Nikon sorely needs to address with the Nikon Z6. The autofocus systems from competing cameras like the Canon EOS R, Fujifilm XT-3, and the Sony A7III all run circles around the Nikon Z6.

In terms of Autofocus, the Nikon Z6 earns Two out of Five Stars.

 

Image Quality

Design quirks and autofocus quibbles aside, one aspect that really stood out to me with the Nikon Z6 is the quality of the images its capable of producing. While the rear display certainly doesn’t do the image quality justice, most of the images looked excellent straight out of the camera, and you will be able to do a lot with your images when you import them into a raw converter.

Raw File Versatility

The Nikon Z6 is capable of capturing uncompressed raw files with a bit depth of up to 14 bits, which gives you a lot of information to work with in post. As you can see in the samples below, the Z6 captures enough information that even if you happen to have to photograph in situations with less than flattering light, there is still enough information for you to work with during post processing to help salvage the image.

Unedited Original RAW Image

Edited in Capture One Pro 12

Unedited Original RAW Image

Edited in Capture One Pro 12

Unedited Original RAW Image

Edited in Capture One Pro 12

Unedited Original RAW Image

Edited in Capture One Pro 12

High ISO Output

Shot at ISO 6400

Shot at ISO 6400

Shot at ISO 6400

When it comes to the high ISO output on the Nikon z6, we’re very positive that the 24MP Full frame sensor at the heart of the camera will produce images that you’re going to be absolutely fine with when posting to the web. At ISO 6400, the images render pretty clean–especially when downsized for the web. This isn’t at all an issue.

We, as a standard, test high ISO output by printing on a Canon Prograf 1000 using either Canon, Legion, Red River or Epson paper depending on our needs. Surprisingly, we found the output to be only marginally cleaner than the Nikon z7’s during our printing test. Still that’s saying a whole lot because the Nikon z7 is super clean at ISO 6400.

Additional Image Samples

In Comparison

To be perfectly honest, it’s pretty hard to take a bad image with the Nikon Z6 as long as you know what you’re doing behind the camera. If you’re the type of photographer that likes to get as much done in camera as possible, then you’ll find a lot to love about the images that the Z6 is capable of producing, and there’s plenty for you to work with in the RAW files as well if you like to get creative in post. With that said, the Z6’s image quality isn’t likely to blow your socks off if you’re accustomed to the image quality of competing cameras like the Canon EOS R, Fujifilm XT-3, and the Sony A7III.

In terms of Image Quality, the Nikon Z6 earns Five out of Five Stars.

 

Conclusions

Likes

  • Build quality
  • EVF design
  • Image quality

Dislikes

  • Atrocious autofocus
  • Single XQD slot

The Nikon Z6 is a capable, entry-level Full Frame Mirrorless camera, but given how long it has taken Nikon to truly commit to the Mirrorless market, we were hoping for so much more. Instead of wowing us out of the gate, the Z6 just felt half-baked. If you’ve amassed plenty of Nikkor F Mount glass over the years, then the Z6 is certainly worthy of consideration, but I doubt many photographers will switch systems for the Z6 because frankly, the Z6 isn’t reinventing anything despite what Nikon’s marketing will have you believe. The abysmal autofocus performance is arguably the Z6’s biggest downfall, but I’m hopeful that Nikon will take a page from Fujifilm’s book and improve the Z6 over time with regular firmware updates. The single XQD slot will undoubtedly deter a lot of potential buyers as well, as some photographers simply cannot afford the risk that comes with shooting without any sort of redundancy that dual card slots provide, so let’s hope they rectify this with the inevitable Mark II revision.

All things considered, the Nikon Z6 is a decent enough camera, albeit one that Nikon should have brought to market quite some time ago. Averaging the scores as outlined in our new experimental reviews standard, the Nikon Z6 earns Four out of Five Stars. 

The Nikon Z6 is available now, and you can order one for yourself over at Amazon.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.